‘Long Island Business Report’ to debut as special to attract sponsors

WLIW21, a WNET station, is premiering a 30-minute local news show, Long Island Business Report, on Tuesday (May 1) as a special, with the aim of attracting sponsors. “We hope to re-launch in the fall,” host Jim Paymar told the Long Island Business News website. “The station is behind the project. It’s a matter of fundraising and getting sponsorships. We’ll be looking for funds from corporations and foundations and individuals who believe in public broadcasting and the type of program we’re doing.” The show is being produced as a collaboration between WLIW and the host’s Paymar Communications Group.In an announcement, the station said the show “continues WLIW21’s commitment to presenting the issues most important to Long Island residents and celebrating the Island’s unique people and places.”Paymar is a veteran business news anchor and correspondent who has worked for CNBC, WABC, WNBC, and BusinessWeek.

Eaton enjoys choosing shows, and shoes

Rebecca Eaton, e.p. of Masterpiece and the woman who brought the hit Downton Abbey to America, admits she’s “pretty addicted” to her job, in a Q&A with Collider.com (which describes itself as “the homepage for young men the world over obsessed with staying ahead of the curve in the marketplace’s most lucrative leisure pursuits”). In her role, Eaton says, “There’s always a crisis somewhere, and you get the satisfaction of solving the problem. And then, there’s always the mystery of whether a program will work or not, and waiting for the reviews or seeing what the audience figures are.”Eaton also reveals a fairly hands-off approach: Once shows are in production, “my motto is to leave them alone. Once they’re shooting, sometimes I go to the set to visit. When they’re shot, I look at various early cuts and give notes, as I give notes on scripts.

PBS UK channel ‘struggling to find the audience its content deserves’

Ian Burrell, media columnist for The Independent in London, talks with PBS President Paula Kerger, who was in Great Britain to promote the fledgling PBS UK channel that launched last year. The channel “is struggling to find the audience its content deserves,” Burrell notes. Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK general manager, “admits that 20,000 is currently considered a good rating — a poor return for the quality of the output.”Concludes Burrell: “PBS cannot compete with the BBC in this country, and nor would it try to, but it does offer a similar hallmark of quality and a welcome new insight into American life.”

Diverse array of NEA grants includes Mozilla, BAVC, multiplatform ‘Complete Ulysses’

Now online, Current’s roundup of this month’s NEA Media Arts grants, which includes several high-profile first-time recipients with strong digital components. Open-source pioneer Mozilla Foundation of Mountain View, Calif. — parent of the Firefox browser — won $100,000 for Open(Art), which will commission collaborations between artists and technologists to create and exhibit artwork on the Web. The Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco also received $100,000, to support the Factory Hybrid Filmmaking Project, a pilot for young filmmakers producing digital and web-native short films.Larry Josephson received $10,000 for his ambitious multimedia project, The Complete Ulysses. Josephson, a pioneering host on Pacifica’s WBAI in New York, has celebrities lined up to read James Joyce’s masterwork, estimated to take 30 hours or more.

NEA allotted this year’s media aid ‘to present art in new and . . . engaging ways’

Soon, listeners will hear celebrities read James Joyce’s entire masterpiece Ulysses via satellite and Internet radio; a New York City theater will use video-game technology to invent a new medium for the performing arts; and a San Francisco-based organization will craft computer data into interactive visual artworks. The projects are made possible through the newly expanded Arts in Media category from the National Endowment for the Arts, which this year branched out from primarily supporting public TV and radio programs. Last week the NEA announced 78 grants totaling $3.55 million, with an increased emphasis on technological innovation and multiplatform reach (Current, April 23). Several of the largest grants, $100,000 each, went to high-profile first-time recipients with strong digital components. Open-source pioneer Mozilla Foundation of Mountain View, Calif. — parent of the Firefox browser — won for Open(Art), which will commission collaborations between artists and technologists to create and exhibit artwork on the Web.

‘Sesame Street’ goes interactive this fall with help from Microsoft

Here’s an update on the partnership announced last October between Sesame Workshop and Microsoft to use Xbox 360 consoles fitted with Kinect motion-sensor technology to create interactive educational experiences for kids, including Sesame Street.Soho Studios, a new Microsoft unit in London, is working on Kinect Sesame Street TV, due out this autumn, reports C21 Media, a site focusing on cutting-edge content. “With Sesame Street from 1969 onwards, the characters have looked out of the TV and asked the kids a question and assumed they were answering,” said Soho Studios’ Senior Design Director Josh Atkins. “What we’ve done is allowed kids to answer.”He tells C21 Media about a game called “The Letter Tree,” in which Cookie Monster is hungry for his next meal. Everything that grows on the tree starts with a particular letter; if kids watching jump up and down, the goodies fall and Cookie Monster gets his reward. “The characters on the screen actually know what the child has done, they respond to the child’s actions,” Atkins said.

Latest Public Media Futures forum, from Los Angeles, to be posted online

The challenges and importance of local pubmedia TV production — from East Harlem to San Diego — was the topic of the latest Public Media Futures forum, on Saturday (April 28), sponsored by USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and American University’s School of Communication. Presentations at KUSC in Los Angeles included an update on KCET’s local initiatives since its independence from PBS in 2010, from Al Jerome, president of the L.A. station; an inside look at how KPBS in San Diego is raising support for its robust multiplatform news-gathering operation; and an overview of the strength of local programming at Nashville Public Television from TRAC Media’s David LeRoy. The webcast of the meeting, which included a wide-ranging discussion among a diverse assortment of pubmedia stakeholders in the room and questions from online participants, will be archived the week of April 30 at this link, on the website of Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. See coverage in the May 14 issue of Current; read Tweets posted from the forum at #pubmediafutures.

FCC okays framework for channel-sharing after spectrum auction

The FCC on Friday (April 27) unanimously adopted the basic regulatory framework for broadcast channel-sharing after the auction to free up bandwidth for mobile devices, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Any channel sharing will be voluntary and flexible; stations may decide how to divide a shared 6-MHz channel, as long as each delivers at least one standard-definition digital primary channel. Each primary channel will be subject to all FCC obligations and must-carry rights.Under spectrum auction legislation approved earlier this year, a broadcaster may opt to give up entirely its license to broadcast on a TV channel of 6 MHz, keep only part of its 6-MHz channel and share the rest with another station, or swap its UHF channel for a VHF channel (Current, Feb. 28).

‘Permanent beta’ a new programming approach for NPR

NPR lately has been using a more nimble and less expensive way of developing content — a kind of “permanent beta” — notes Nieman Journalism Lab. New offerings such as TED Radio Hour, Ask Me Another and Cabinet of Wonders are relatively inexpensive live shows or adaptations of existing titles, and run as pilot projects.That’s different from, say, Bryant Park Project, launched five years ago on a budget of $2 million after extended online piloting (Current, Sept. 24, 2007); that died within a year (Current, July 28, 2008).“Historically,” Eric Nuzum, NPR’s v.p. of programming, told Nieman, “the way that NPR and others in public radio have produced big programming is we come up with an idea we think is really good, we hire a staff, we keep all this very cloak-and-dagger secret, and then we try to make a big launch with it, and we end up with 30 stations and then over time more stations add to it. Using that process, it takes years to determine years if something is going to be a hit or not. And that involves millions and millions of dollars.”Nuzum added that whether the latest shows catch on or not, “I’m really proud of what we’ve come up with.